OK. So I am clearly entering Erikkson’s eighth psychosocial stage. That of wisdom and despair. I’m happy with the wisdom bit. And I’m not a despairing sort of person as those who know me will attest. However I have found over the past 3 years that parts of me – including my digestive system – is more sensitive. Along with my first ever bout of gout, combining alcohol with my drug regime (!) and a dodgy hip. And so a few adjustments have been made. The good outcome is dropping two dress sizes. Less good is being unable to drink beer, eat too much liver, mackerel, smoked salmon, sardines, spinach and cavolo nero, having to moderate the wine intake and be careful about eating too many grains. Has it driven me to despair though? No it hasn’t. It’s another opportunity to adapt and find new things and new ways. Does it mean I never eat any of those things? No!
So here’s my first ‘sensitive’ recipe. Gluten-free vegan mince-pies.
Soak 100g raisins and a tablespoon of chia seeds n some hot tea for half an hour. Drain then add 2tbsp maple syrup, 1tbsp of molasses and the grated rind of a small orange. Grate two eating apples into the raisins and then 2 tbs pine-nuts and two of pumpkin seeds. Add about 25g marzipan paste (egg free) chopped into tiny pieces. Add about 1 tbsp of any spirit such as brandy, whisky or port. Combine all the ingredients. Best do this a few hours before you are making the pastry – or put in a sterilised jar and keep in the fridge for no more than a week.
I used 240g of Dove’s Farm gluten-free flour for the pastry, half a teaspoon of salt, a sprinkle of baking powder, a little grating of lemon rind and 120g Flora. Just make it like normal pastry by rubbing the fat into the flour, pull it together with some cold water and leave to rest for half an hour. You will find that gluten-free flour makes a very ‘soft’ dough and – inevitably – it’s not very stretchy. But it is perfectly workable with a little care.
Prepare your tins by greasing liberally first, then throw in some coarse semolina and swirl around the base and the sides. This makes the finished article lovely and crisp on the bottom and prevents stickage! Roll out the dough, use a cutter that’s big enough (don’t know about you, but incy-pincy mince-pies look so mean, so I use a muffin tin – call me greedy if you like). Fill the bases with your fruit mixture, then add the pastry tops, using a little liquid to seal the edges.
#Three Top Tips.
- Grease the tins and then throw a little coarse semolina into each depression and swirl it around to coat the bottom and the sides
- Use a round-bladed knife just to ease the edges away from the pan after you’ve added the tops, then they won’t seal as if stuck by super-glue when you try to take them out!
- Mix a tablespoon or so of soya milk with a tiny amount of custard powder if you don’t like egg-wash. Use egg-wash or the yellow milk to glaze the tops.
Bake toward the top of a pre-heated oven at 200C for 15-20 minutes. Check just before 15 minutes. I swear you will burn the roof of your mouth because you won’t be able to wait for them to get cool!